Why We Struggle

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 · 
24th June 2024
 · 
4 min read

It's about the journey, not the destination.

Photo by Quentin Durand

Why, when you have enough cash to single-handedly end world hunger, do you not just put your feet up and permit your army of sycophants to drown you in untold ease and luxury?

Why does one of the richest men on the planet go to such lengths to make his life more difficult?

This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately; why do we as humans continually set out to do difficult tasks when there are easier, more reasonable options available to us?

Why do we gravitate towards struggle?

I've come to learn that June is usually a busy month for me. When there is R&D tax offsets to claim and budgets to spend before the end of the financial year, there's often a push to either start or finish packets of work.

But this June my workload has been entirely unreasonable. I've worked late into nights and Saturdays. Amongst all that I've had to dream up things to post on LinkedIn too. Then I get up on Sunday and write my article and newsletter for the week.

I don't have to write these articles. I don't have to collect interesting things to share in my newsletter. My articles don't have to be 1000 words. And I don't have to be teaching myself Rhino at the same time.

I certainly don't have to do these things when I'm also doing a 12 hour work day.

But I do.

Why?

The fruits of our labour.

I think for most people, they don't want life to be easy. They want life to be rewarding. We are rewarded when we reach our goal through the process of struggling to achieve it.

Ironically (and evidently), money can't buy a rewarding life.

For me, I have the modest goal of being able to do what I'm doing and still be able to provide for my family at the five-year mark. Given something like 50% of businesses fail in the first five years (20% just in the first year), I figure that's a pragmatic target to aim for. That'll be September 2026.

For me, September 2026 is just a destination. One September amongst all the others that have come before and will come after (hopefully). What will make September 2026 matter is my journey getting there. From having no idea what I'm doing, to kinda sorta knowing what I'm doing. And doing excellent and rewarding work along the way.

The struggle to achieve our goal is what imbues it with its value.

Not the #riseandgrind.

Unless you're talking about coffee beans of course.

There is a difference between struggling for the sake of it, and struggling because you have passion for it. Struggling because you have a passion for your goals invigorates you. Struggling for the sake of it just burns you out.

I'll admit that not everything I do I am passionate about. There is much that I do in the day-to-day that is just a struggle, plain and simple. Doing admin and its associated tasks is something I could do without. I do have systems in place to streamline these things, so fortunately they only make up a small percentage of my work. After this month though, I can see some room for improvement.

I wouldn't say I have a passion for writing blog articles every week either, though I do enjoy writing. Which is ironic, given I was very middling at English in high school. Yet I will say I have a passion for design, and a passion for owning my design work. The Journal, the LinkedIn, the Xero, it's all part of the resistance that makes the journey what it is.

Optimum struggle.

Humans seem to want to do hard things. But they have to be the right kind of hard things. Things that are rewarding. Fill us with a sense of achievement. Stoke our passions.

To that end, perhaps we do the right kinds of struggles in order to minimise the wrong kind of struggles. We struggle to learn hard skills so we don't struggle in hardship. We struggle to climb mountains so we don't struggle to climb stairs.

For me that'll mean taking a look at a few of my processes in the new financial year. Looking to find ways to streamline those things that do not bring me joy, so I can spend more time doing the things that do.

And no, I will absolutely not be having ChatGPT write my articles for me. Though one concession I will make is I plan to reduce the length of articles to make them faster to write and more concise. My 1000-word threshold is largely arbitrary, and I can usually make a point in less. I'm hoping that reducing my word count will reduce some of the burden on my time, and thus increase sustainability. I might even be a bit more relaxed about the things I write about, like this one. Keep things interesting.

If I'm still doing this very thing in September 2026, by my own measure I'll be able to say "I've arrived". Yet, no doubt in my mind I'll already be looking towards my next destination and the journey to get th.

It's rewarding.

It's why we struggle.

Tagged: business · consulting · philosophy

ⓒ Lincoln Black 2024

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